Introduction: The Beginner's Guide to Buying Airsoft Field Gear
So you've bought your AEG, but your blue jeans don't have enough pockets to hold all those extra magazines. It's time to buy some new gear.
The problem with buying new gear is that I can't tell you exactly what to buy.
Chances are you'll have different needs because of your environment where you play, your position on your team (light rifleman, medium rifleman, designated marksman), how often you play. Also your age and mass.
*CQB play has different positions that I do not really discuss, sorry CQB friends*
That being said I can give you my advice on loadout style, what equipment to get, etc.
Step 1: The Role You Play = the Gear You Buy
I've seen many airsoft instructables that start off with something along the lines of:
"wat role u going to play? ther r snipes, riflman, & comander...."
The truth is most of us already have a preconceived notion of what role we'd like to play. When I first started playing airsoft I wanted to be the "Leader" element (I had no idea which military ranks were which).
Since I wanted to be a "Leader" I assumed that I only needed one or two magazines for my Thompson and I would be issuing orders and sticking to the back of my team so I could see everything that was going on.
I began to play airsoft more and more and I've recently been playing at a field where all the players are excellent. That being said I've taken more of a Medium Rifleman role. I take orders from the commanding Officer of my squad.
"What's your point?" You're probably asking that. Well the point is you nor other people can tell you what position you play. That's right, YOU can NOT tell yourself what kind of player you are.
The best thing you can do is get out there play a couple of games and then compare your playing style to the roles listed in the link below. Just substitute the words "paint" or "paintballs" for "bb's."
After you've compared those things we can start to decide what kind of gear you'll be needing.
Step 2: "I Just Started Playing, and I Want Gear ASAP!"
I'm sure some of you disregarded my advice on playing first, or maybe you're in a rush to get gear because your friends are playing this weekend.
Here's some quick stuff to get you started that you'll probably use as you find out your team position.
Some basic stuff that you may like:
-High Top shoes/boots
-Paintball mask/full seal goggles
All this gear will be explained in later steps.
Step 3: Necessary Gear (Regardless of Position)
Gear suitable for every role:
I live in Florida. It gets really hot, but I wear full-finger gloves for three reasons:
1. So I don't cut myself on anything
2. The mosquitoes here suck (I guess that's a given)
3. So I don't have any bb-shaped wounds.
Some people don't like full-finger gloves because it restricts movement a little bit or it's uncomfortable or some other reason. My advice is to buy full finger gloves and worse comes to worse, cut the fingers off of them if you don't like them.
Battle Dress Uniform. My BDU has a pattern on it called "x-camo" (seen in the below image). The best way to describe it is "A digital Multicam" it's also MUCH cheaper. I used to run with MARPAT or woodland camo, but I just don't have any real "woods" where I play. It's all about environment, though I'd argue that it'll work in almost any environment you wear it in.
BDU's are not 100% necessary though. A very skilled friend of mine runs with a tan t-shirt and off-white pants. He's always one of the last ones to get out (in a losing game).
Honestly, the best thing you can do is go to places where legitimate teams (or huge groups of airsoft players) play and see which of them are hardest to pick out in battle. Ask them what camo scheme they're running and go buy it.
Eye Protection is a given, but most fields require a full seal around the eyes or just a paintball mask. I wear AIM Top brand goggles (full seal).
I wear a neoprene face mask because it absorbs all my sweat and camouflages my face. Granted it's not a necessity, but it's definitely something to consider. The only downside is that some masks don't have enough/big enough breathing holes. A hobby knife will take care of that pretty nicely.
-Boots/high top shoes
If you play in the muddy waters of Louisiana you need boots. If you play in mud you need boots. If you play on the side of mountains you need boots.
If you play CQB you don't need boots, but then again you're probably not reading this instructable since it has a field focus.
Not as important when you're doing smaller games, but when you play capture the flag with 10 people it's a very good idea to have a means of communication. I use some cheap Motorola radios with a Firefox Throat mic.
-Hats and Helmets
Not completely necessary, but a good option. I have a helmet because I don't like getting shot in the head and I always end up running into a tree (don't ask). Unfortunately I do not have a camo helmet cover so it'll sometimes give away my position. On the other hand, I have a MARPAT boonie (hat) that works pretty good at camouflaging me and also providing some extra shade from the sun.
I run with knee pads because I'm often ducking and kneeling. Rocks are in abundance where I play so I bought knee pads. Knee pads are great and they can be fairly inexpensive, especially if you already have a pair from another sport.
Reusable water bottle clipped onto your chest rig with a carabiner, hydration pouch on your back, however you do it make sure that you have it.
Step 4: Chest Rigs and Some Girl Named MOLLE
If you're not too sure about the kind of gear to buy, this is the way to go. It's only about $20. That's a steal. The specs are tagged in the picture. It's not upgradeable, but it fits most needs.
-MOLLE based gear
Read all about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MOLLE
Basically it's a system that allows you to add more pouches to a vest/rig/harness. Bought more magazines? Buy another MOLLE pouch for it. MOLLE compatible equipment can be pretty expensive for a newer player/someone without any income.
do a search of "ALICE" on wikipedia. There are other systems out there, but I'm just dgoing into the basics here.
Start off with a Condor chest rig. Why? It's only $20. If you find that you really do need more pouches for whatever it may be, sell the chest rig and buy MOLLE compatible gear. MOLLE gear is expensive to start with and if you find that you don't like it/don't need it, you've easily thrown $50+ out the window.
Step 5: How Position Relates to Gear and a Few Tips
*Again, these are all suggestions*
If you're a designated Marksman, you don't need as many magazines as your teammates (1-2). If you're a heavy rifleman you need the most amount of magazines (6+). Light Rifleman and Commanding Officer need 3-4, and the Medium Rifleman needs 4-6.
Lighter Positions need less gear (or "kit" as so many players call it). Heavier positions need more. Find what's more suitable to your position.
A Few Tips:
-A Heavy gunner needs to have an extra battery (depending on what type of battery and it's maH).
-It's always good for everyone to have radios.
-If your Designated Marksman is using a Semi-automatic/gas/spring weapon, he may want to have a fully automatic sidearm. Perhaps an Mp7, MP5, or Hi-Capa Extreme. There are leg holsters for these airsoft guns out on the market.
-Don't carry what you don't need. I leave a gallon of water at the staging area and carry a reusable water bottle during games.
-See what the "good" airsofters run with. Ask them their advice on equipment. Their equipment is likely to be more suitable for the type of games that you play.
-Always see if you can buy/trade gear with other players.